It was a pleasure to once again experience the exhilarating work of the Australia-based Circa Contemporary Circus with their newest production “Sacre” presented at the elegantly intimate The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz, the 10 acrobats of the Circa ensemble held the audience in heart pounding awe with their intense physicality and grace. The first half of the performance featured new music by Philippe Bachman that was punctuated by strong beats, bangs and sonic zaps that then transitioned into Igor Stravinsky’s suspenseful and haunting “Rite of Spring.”

Sacre by Circa, photo by Pedro Greig

Setting the mood, the first seven minutes began with the theater completely dark as figures emerged on the shadowy stage that remained dimly lit throughout the 65-minute performance. The performers costumed in black – women in dresses and men in suits or bare-chested in shorts – reinforced the focus on their individual and collective strength and prowess. Driven by the music and accentuated with occasional strobe effects, the acrobats, with non-stop fast paced tension, fluidly hurled, twisted, slid, contorted, tangled, balanced on, climbed over, and lifted each other into elevated tower formations. 

Beyond the mesmerizing appreciation for the performers’ skillful proficiency and physical risks taken, “Sacre” communicates a deeper sense of the essential humanity we all share in seeking sensual and soulful connection and relationship. Perhaps triggered by the dream-like quality that the staging and choreography evoked, for an instant I had a flashing visual image of Hieronymus Bosch’s painting the “Garden of Earthly Desire.”

Lifschitz writes in the program notes that “My work doesn’t tell stories. I’m not interested in themes or ideas, I work in circus because it is actual, intense, real, it isn’t about, it is.”  

Each moment of the performance kept the audience in the here and now while also offering a theatrical transcending experience that culminated with a standing ovation.

Yaron Lifschitz is based Brisbane, Australia and Circa has toured the world performing in 40 countries to over a million people.

Sacre by Circa Lighting Designer: Veronique Bennett; Costume Design: Libby McDonnell; Technical Director: Jason Organ; Producer: Danielle Kellie; Artists: Fran Alvarez, Marty Evans, Nancy Gutierrez, Sam Letch, Hamish McCourty, Daniel O’Brien, Kimberley O’Brien, Jarrod Takle, Luke Thomas, Georgia Webb, Christina Zauner;

For more information about Circa, visit the website at circa.org.au – For upcoming performances at The Broad Stage, go to Thebroadstage.org

Sacre by Circa photo by Pedro Greig